18/04/2024

Marcus Harris looked comfortable on a difficult MCG wicket (Photo: @vicstatecricket / X - Design: Theo Dimou)

Batting on a green wicket produces its challenges, but for Australian test hopeful Marcus Harris, today he seemed to bat with ease.

After the MCG was handed a poor pitch rating by the ICC after the 2017 Boxing Day Test against England, Melbourne’s colosseum has produced some lively pitches. 

Today’s wicket for Victoria’s Sheffield Shield fixture against Queensland was no exception, posing nightmares for the batsman. 

Harris however, rose to the challenge, producing a well-fought 73 from 212 deliveries, which included seven boundaries and a maximum to bring up his half-century.

Despite making it look easy, the left-hander told The Inner Sanctum it was a tough grind out in the middle and that it was about waiting for the right ball. 

“It didn’t feel easy [batting out there],” Harris told The Inner Sanctum.

“If one ball is in your area, you try and hope to get it past the fielder and then you go again. 

“It’s just about finding a way.”

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Runs were hard to come by in the first session, as the opening-bowling partnership of Gurinder Sandhu and Jack Wildermuth helped limit the Bushrangers to 2/25 off the first 22 overs. 

However, Harris and incoming partner Peter Handscomb didn’t panic, putting on a 114-run stand to swing momentum into their favour. The opener said they used their experience to help exploit the Bulls’ bowling attack. 

“There’s always going to be phases throughout the day and the innings where it’s tight and there’s going to be times where you score a bit quicker. So it was about riding the wave of it and then try to have a period where you’re on top,” he said. 

“I didn’t feel like Queensland bowled badly at all, so it didn’t really feel like they had those patches, but we both stuck it out and found a way.” 

It was a second-consecutive score above 50 for the two-time Bill Lawry Medallist, who scored 164 at Junction Oval last week. Although, the wicket at the Junction seemed to be nowhere near as challenging as over 1000 runs were scored over the four days. 

Harris admits that the pitch at Junction Oval was easier compared to the one today, but said it was rewarding to make runs in more challenging conditions.  

“It’s good to make runs on different wickets,” he said. 

“It shows good application to be able to bat for just over two sessions.   

“It’s satisfying to get runs on a tough wicket.”

His gritty knock will re-ignite the debate of who will replace David Warner as Australia’s test opener when he retires at the end of the Australian summer. While he is aware of the spot at stake, Harris hopes to let the runs do the talking. 

“I’ve been around long enough now to know what to expect [when it comes to these conversations],” he said.

“It’s just another season for me where it’s going to be spoken about but try and make some runs and hopefully that looks after itself.” 

Victoria finished day one at 4/209 from 96 overs. Campbell Kellaway (30*) and Will Sutherland (16*) will be at the crease when play resumes tomorrow morning. 

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